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Growth Mindsets And Fear: New Is Hard

Updated on August 8, 2019
Christina St-Jean profile image

I am a mom of two awesome children who teach me more than I ever thought possible. I love writing, exercise, movies, and LGBT advocacy.

My Role Models

A family of black belts.
A family of black belts.

What Am I Thinking?

I've accomplished a great deal in 46-plus years, and now, I'm considering more.

For the last seven years or so, I've been training karate and I've learned how to run distances that I never dreamed of running. I've recently received my second-degree black belt and I've run a couple of half-marathons, a couple of 30-km road races and even attempted a full marathon. You'd think that I'd be the person who would jump into pretty much any challenge head on after all of that, right?

Not so much.

You see, over the last couple of years, I've seriously entertained starting to train in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, or BJJ. It's a discipline for which the Gracie family has garnered world renown, and it's got serious benefits. One of the biggest benefits is the simple fact that, if you're involved in a fight (something I try and avoid as a general rule), most fights will end up on the ground, so if you're comfortable on the ground, you'll be able to defend yourself appropriately. There's also the physical fitness benefits which aren't to be denied, either.

I haven't exactly jumped at it, though. You see, we're our own biggest roadblocks to trying new things a lot of the time, so there's been a whole lot of watching, and curiosity, and self-negotiation as I contemplate whether or not to jump into the fray. The reason why all of this is going on, of course, is pure, simple fear.

I'm 46 years old and I have occasional back issues, brought about from a rollerblading accident some two decades earlier. I'm also not the most flexible person physically. Those two reasons alone have caused me to rock back on my heels a bit and wonder if I really want to push the envelope that much.

I look at the people taking BJJ - my youngest daughter included - and I marvel at their speed and their flexibility. I am impressed by how easily they breakfall onto the ground and are willing to get in tight with each other to execute new maneuvers. Then, I picture how I see myself taking it in my head and I give myself a shake and think, "I can't do that...can I?"

We're very frequently our own worst enemies when it comes to taking something new, and I have often thought that as we get older, those roadblocks get bigger in our heads. Truth be told, once we bounce out of our 20s, our recovery time just ain't what it used to be, right?

I realize all of this rambling that I'm doing is really stalling. The more I talk, the more I can talk myself out of something, which is I think the case with a lot of people.

However, there's also the simple matter of my two biggest role models: my kids.

I'm a firm believer that, as a mom, if I model certain behaviors, they might eventually rub off on my kids. I realize that's by no means a new idea - we all do that - and sometimes, that idea doesn't exactly work to our benefit. Any parent who has ever heard their kid swear in the backseat knows exactly what I'm talking about. However, when it comes to exercise, at the very least, or trying new things, perhaps if I jump into something that sort of takes me out of my comfort zone (in a good way), my kids will realize that the world doesn't come to an end when you push yourself a little farther than what you might be used to.

I referred to my kids as my role models. While I certainly have adult role models, my kids are also inspiring to me as well. My youngest has a way of looking at the world that is so creative and so adventurous I am frequently awed by her courage to just sort of shrug and go for whatever she's going for (again, in a good way). My oldest is a quieter sort of person, but by the same token, she wrestles with certain ideas and philosophies and then ultimately pushes herself through obstacles until they are no longer obstacles. How can you not be inspired by that?

So, while I might wrestle with the idea of BJJ, the thought of pushing myself out of my comfort zone, similar to what I did in learning karate, does hold a certain appeal. I could say I'm doing it because of my kids, but what it comes down to - as with any new thing - is that I'm ultimately doing it for myself.


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